Tuesday, 17 Oct 2017

SALIGAN POLICY ADVOCACY FOR SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENT

 


Right to Healthful and Balanced Ecology

 

Generally, the constitutional mandate and jurisprudential invocation of the right of the peoples to a healthful and balanced ecology is a mere token declaration. Communities are still bombarded by practices that violate this right such as:

 

  • Aerial spraying of chemicals including heavy use of pesticides in agricultural plantations, thereby affecting peoples’ health and lives
  • Rampant violations of logging and mining activities resulting to degradation of watershed areas
  • Continuous pollution of ecosystems from coastal, agricultural and upland areas depriving communities of the management of natural resources in their areas 
  • Other abuses of the environment resulting to dispossession of communities’ stewardship to resources

 

In that regard, SALIGAN pushes for the enactment of several bills pending in Congress and other local legislative bodies that aims to protect people’s right to health and the environment. Several gains have been achieved at the local level, particularly with the enactment of the Davao City Ordinance Banning Aerial Spraying in Agricultural Areas. This Ordinance became a subject of a case involving its constitutionality raised by banana companies, of which community residents intervened in the case defending its validity. RTC of Davao has ruled in favor of its constitutionality. Case is pending before the Court of Appeals. Environment groups such as the Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS) and Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE) support the action.

 

 

Overlapping Interest of Sectoral Concerns


There are conflicting laws arising from overlapping rights of sectors with respect to their respective rights to manage and utilize natural resources within their communities, such as:

 

  • Indigenous peoples with respect to utilization of resources in conflict with provisions of the Forestry Code and Mining laws

 

  • Fisherfolks claiming the utilization of municipal waters in conflict w/ IP claims over ancestral waters

 

  • Peasants asserting their rights to distribution of lands to public domain which are identified as for conservations purposes, such as protected areas under NIPAS.

 

  • Urban poor attempts to comply with urban environmental laws such as ESWMA and Clean Air Act

 

  • Communities’ assertion over their right to manage their environment which is in conflict with government agencies directive that jurisdiction vests with them.

 

Community consultations have been conducted with respect to this area of concern, particularly on mining issues in Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental. Position papers have been submitted to various government agencies such as the Provincial Government of Sultan Kudarat through the Social Action Center of Marbel with respect to small-scale mining. The Alternative Law Groups, Inc. (ALG) have considered this a priority issue considering the complexity of the problem.

 

Environmental Justice

 

Prevalence of blatant violations of environmental crimes such as illegal logging and fishing activities necessitates the need for communities to act directly towards other legal interventions. Towards this end, SALIGAN pushed for the local government’s recognition of paralegal actions as an alternative law enforcement mechanism towards community-based environmental protection strategy. By partnering with the Davao City Council’ Environment Committee and the Institute for Environmental Governance of the Ateneo de Davao University, the establishment of an environmental paralegal formation program is programmed to complement partners’ work in policy advocacy, environmental education and litigation. With the involvement of academe and local government units in civil society’s effort, community would be able to be directly involved in law enforcement and litigation.

 

 

Environmental Impact System

 

Existing DENR regulations on the issuance of Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECC) have been adjusted to accommodate concerns about being restrictive, thereby diluting provisions on peoples’ participation and consultation mechanisms. Thus, SALIGAN Mindanaw calls for the abolition of DAO 30-2003 and reversion to the previous DAO ensuring peoples’ participation in the consultation mechanisms. Along with other environmental partners such as the Interface Development Intervention, activities include proper implementation of ECCs including the penalty provisions with respect to violations on enforcement and monitoring. Constituency-building has also been conducted through study sessions and other for a pushing for the order’s abolition.